The May issue of n by Norwegian is a Svalbard special. For this we relocated the whole team (editor, deputy editor, art director, photographer and and sales people) to the main town of Longyearbyen – the world’s northernmost permanent settlement – for a week, armed with a set of ‘n’ logos recreated in MDF (pic above). That’s our temporary office, below.
It was an intense week of dog-sledding, snowmobiling to bizarre Russian mining towns, “researching” bars (tip: don’t drink the night before a snowmobile trip) and running around the place doing portraits. Photographer Tim White took more than 7,000 photos.
We were completely blown away by the place, and not just for the reasons we expected. We went expecting it to be beautiful, and to provide lots of “Holy crap, we’re in the Arctic” moments (it did) – but we also expected that Longyearbyen would be a small town with a small town mentality. Actually, it’s a really vibrant place full of smart, interesting people, that really feels like it’s on the up. The university, UNIS, is doing world-leading research into everything from glaciology to climate change, and the vibe is MIT with tents and snowmobiles. Many of the restaurants, surprisingly, are world class, including Huset, with its 25,000 bottles of wine. Mary-Ann’s Polarriggen is one of the quirkiest hotels I’ve ever stayed in, with its wood-fired hot tub and mining bus turned smoking room, and many of the other hotels are top-end. But the main thing is the people – everyone we interviewed was obliging, passionate and smart. It’s not an easy place to live (there’s practically no healthcare, and everyone needs to have a job), so literally only the strongest survive.
It really is an incredibly special place, on so many levels – we expected to have cabin fever after a week, but we didn’t want to leave. They call it the Arctic Bug – and we caught it. (Posted by Toby Skinner)